About mold and mildew

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, July/Aug 2008

Hi Rose,
Please share any strategies and best practices that will help me deal with mold and /or mildew in guest room/ condo and carpet cleaning programs.
Thank you,
Moldy Molly

Aloha MM,
Yours is a loaded question, so the first step is to know and understand the culprits you are dealing with. Mildew, mold and algae have been around since the beginning of time. All are a fungus (plant) that thrives in damp, dark and warm places with no air circulation and are generally found in kitchens, bathrooms, closets and poorly ventilated environments. These pesky growths may be recognized by sight as colored woolly mats or by a foul, musty, earthy odor that often leaves black, gray, orange, white, bluish-green specks or blotches on surfaces that they affect. Often frustrating with these problems is that, while we can clean it, kill it and abuse it, if not maintained properly they show up again and again.

One of the most effective and safe methods to kill them is with a disinfectant cleaner and by dislodging it with brush agitation. Chlorine bleach and water are often used, but must be used with caution as it can be harmful to people and to surfaces. In daily room cleaning services, it would stand to reason that mildew and mold should not be a major problem, especially if disinfectant-cleaner chemicals are used. Here, I dare to say that cleaning disciplines and processes may be a key problem that housekeeping managers should focus on, particularly bathroom and kitchen cleaning. Preapplication of disinfectant cleaners with 10 minutes dwell time is an important process to kill and remove germs, bacteria, mildew and mold. Finish rinsing with hot water to enhance the killing power and drying time of the cleaned surfaces. For heavy mildew and mold buildup, simple disinfecting is not enough due to mineral buildup. A stronger acidic type of cleaner is necessary to penetrate and dissolve the minerals, mildew and mold at its root.

Ways to prevent growth in bathrooms:
• Prespray all surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner prior to cleaning.
• Allow for 10-15 minutes dwell (germ kill) time.
• Clean all surfaces with detergent/ disinfectant and water.
• Keep bathrooms well ventilated after cleaning.
• Keep a small opening on both sides of tub shower curtains or sliding doors for air circulation.

In kitchen areas, mildew and mold problems generally will appear in the sink and drain area and in refrigerators around and in between the rubberized sealers on the doors.

Ways to prevent growth in kitchens:
• Sanitize all kitchen counter surfaces frequently.
• Pour disinfectant cleaner or a drain treatment chemical down the kitchen drain periodically.
• Use a dishwashing detergent with running hot water in the sink drains to assist with cutting of grease buildup.
• Garbage disposals should also be treated and cleaned with a brush-type tool.
• Full disinfecting cleaning of refrigerators should take place during all checkouts.
• A cup of fresh coffee grounds, charcoal briquettes or a box of baking soda will keep long-standing empty refrigerators fresh and moisture and odor free.

Sliding doors of clothes and linen closets should have small openings on both sides after cleaning for air circulation. Chemical moisture absorbers may also be hung in clothes closets. A wipe down with a disinfectant cleaner of the closet shelves and dresser drawers is recommended.

Mildew and mold in carpets occur when there is moisture buildup from spills, toilet overflows and / or overwetting during carpet shampooing. Musty odor is a tell-tale sign. Extracting, drying and disinfecting treatments of both the top and bottom of the carpet will be necessary to kill the mildew/ mold buildup and odor. It is important to find and know the source of the problem as well as the type of carpet and carpet backing being dealt with. Housekeeping managers should be well informed of the various types of carpets installed in their facilities, and the types of surfaces the carpets are installed on, to determine the best and proper carpet cleaning and shampooing process to be applied.

General mold cleanup tips:
• Identify and correct moisture problems.
• Provide well-ventilated working areas.
• Clean wet surfaces with disinfectant, detergent or bleach and water.
• Use personal protective equipment: respiratory, hand and eye protection equipment.

Good luck on your mildew and mold cleaning and elimination programs.

Communicable diseases

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, May/June 2008

Dear Rose,
Communicable diseases are on my training list. Got any information for an executive housekeeper struggling to put together a needed housekeeping training program?

Aloha Joannie,
Communicable diseases are a fact of life that we in housekeeping must focus on. Illnesses spread because of close contact through touching, tasting and/or breathing. The spread of communicable diseases may be reduced by way of preventative and management measures. Communication, cooperation and training must be established among frontline and management personnel. Programs must include clean health policies, cleaning processes and plans for proper training about communicable diseases and illnesses.

Communicable diseases in the workplace pose three classes of risks: workers’ compensation liability, third-party liability and productivity losses.

Hotels use antimicrobials/disinfectants in routine cleaning of guest rooms and on-premise laundering to ensure clean and sanitary bed and bath linens. The same applies to health clubs and spas. Disinfectants are used in public spaces to reduce or prevent the spread of infections.

Other routes of transfer of disease-causing microorganisms include sinks, faucet handles, bathrooms, counters, tables, phones, television remotes and desktops. Regular hand washing, the use of disinfectants and sanitizers on surfaces and objects and general cleanliness are important practices.

Hotels are also often equipped with indoor and/or outdoor swimming pools and whirlpools. These pools create an additional need for antimicrobials. Microbial growth, while encouraged by sunlight, can still flourish in the indoor environment. The use of antimicrobials is therefore necessary in the treatment of swimming pool and spa waters; otherwise, biological contamination would result, indicated by the water’s discoloration and bad odor. Antimicrobials lower the risk of disease and increase aesthetics for the guests’ recreational enjoyment.

Hotels also use antimicrobials in cooling tower treatments to prevent the spread of disease through ventilation.

Communicable diseases are caused by germs and tiny bugs. The germs and bugs are categorized as: viruses (e.g., “colds/7 chicken pox, hepatitis), bacteria (e.g., “strep,” tuberculosis), fungi (e.g., ringworm, thrush) and parasites (e.g., scabies, head lice).

Frequent hand washing while at work is most often discussed in connection with food and cleaning. But it is important to wash hands after using the bathroom, handling money, coughing, sneezing, etc. Evidence indicates that many communicable diseases, such as hepatitis, and gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea and upper respiratory diseases, are spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and inanimate

Health screenings and immunizations of employees are important to prevent the spread of diseases. You can’t tell by looking at people whether they carry a communicable disease. To prevent the spread of diseases, we must take the same infection control precautions at all times with all people. Employees should follow daily safety/infection-control practices to prevent the spread of disease: 1) wash hands at proper times and with the proper technique, 2) use latex or vinyl gloves for contact with blood, 3) clean and disinfect objects and surfaces regularly, 4) prepare and handle food in a sanitary manner, 5) dispose of waste properly and 6) provide fresh air and ventilation.

The best defense against communicable diseases is a healthy body. Intact skin is an excellent barrier to germs. A strong immune system fights off most germs. When we take care of our bodies with proper nutrition, exercise and rest, our bodies can usually take care of us.

Employees should have periodic health screenings. This helps identify health needs and provides treatment to prevent further health problems. The health screening item most relevant to communicable disease are immunizations (vaccines) to protect against serious illnesses, such as polio, measles, diphtheria, mumps, tetanus, rubella (German measles), pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza B and varicella (chicken pox). Hotel employees should consult their health care provider about getting immunized. Since new immunizations can become available at any time, consulting with local public health authorities to leam the most current information is recommended.

Contacting your company’s health care provider for educational information and materials is an excellent avenue for a training program. The health care provider may also support you by providing a speaker for your training programs.

It is important to include in your housekeeping cleaning processes critical information and cleaning steps in dealing with any communicable disease situation or incident that mav arise.

Good luck in putting together your training on managing communicable diseases.

About fomites

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Mar/Apr 2008

Dear Rose,
The word ‘Fomite’ has come up frequently in talking with fellow colleagues reference to Housekeeping and Food Sanitation. Any further information or explanation you can share to best understand its meaning and affect for Housekeeping training will be appreciated.
I Am Bugged

Dear Bugged,
During the Spring of 2007, Executive Housekeepers from Hawaii attended the I.E.H.A., PSWD Convention held at the University of Arizona. All had an educational opportunity to attend an excellent learning workshop presented by Dr. Charles Gerba, PhD, on the topic of Fomites. The title of the workshop was ‘Beware of the Fomites,’ its significance in disease transmission, research and testing information performed by the University of Arizona’s Departments of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics AZ were presented by Dr. Gerba. The following information gathered from Dr. P. Gerba’s power-point presentation, was also shared at an educaLional session for Executive Housekeepers of the I.E.H.A., Hawaii Chapter. It is shared here as important information for all Housekeeping and/or Food Sanitation training programs.

What Is Fomite?

A fomite (FOE-mite) is a physical object that serves to transmit an infectious agent from person to person. For example, a comb infested with one or more head lice would be a fomite, Likewise, the dust particles containing infectious cold virus that remain after droplets of infected saliva are coughed into the air are fomites. Other examples of common fomites are sponges, cleaning cloths, cutting boards, hair brushes, combs, tissues, toothbrushes, forks and spoons, drinking cups and more . . . Other Critical Control Points of Fomites in a guest room setting are: phones, desk tops, key boards, mouse, toilet seats, bathroom sinks, trash receptacles and remote controls.

Why Study and Know About Fomite?

Fomites are believed to play a significant role in 1) transmission of respiratory and enteric (intestinal) viruses; 2) the cross-contamination of foodborne pathogens in the food service industry and in the home; 3) the amplification of bacteria and fungi (sponge/dishcloths); 4) Identifying areas where greatest risk of transmission can occur; 5) determination of risks of infection and success of interventions in reduction of risk.

It is important to be aware that common pathogens are transmitted via contaminated environmental surfaces. Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause disease in other organisms, humans, animals, or plants.

Home is Where the Germs Are

A look at the infection rates for everyday objects in the home and may apply also to hotels and/or condominiums:

Toilet Handle – 40%
Phone Receiver – 80%
Bath Faucet – 50%
TV Remote – 60%
Light Switches – 60%
Computer – 40%
Kitchen Faucet – 60%
Door Knobs – 60%
Microwave – 60%
Refrigerator – 60%

Common Pathogens Transmitted via Contaminated Environmental Surfaces.

Bacterial Pathogens
Salmonella E. coli Listeria
Clostridium difficile Staphylococcus aureus

Viral Pathogens
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Key factors to consider

• The kitchen is more heavily contaminated than the bathroom.
• Ordinary cleaning practices do little to reduce the microbial load.
• Use of hypochlorite cleaning products resulted in a significant reduction in HPC, coliforms, and fecal coliforms both in average and peak values.
• Risk of infection could be reduced greater than 99.99% on cutting boards and kitchen counter- tops by use of orite cleaning products.

Microorganisms Associated with Outbreaks in Public Toilets are:
• Shigella – Diarrhea
• Salmonella – Diarrhea
• Hepatitis A virus – Liver Disease
• Norovirus – Vomiting and Diarrhea

Aerosals are produced during toilet flushing:
• Fecal bacteria and viruses are ejected from the toilet during flushing.
• The droplets settle out in the restroom contaminating the restroom with fecal microorganisms.

Hand-Washing Findings:
• 95 percent of people say they wash their hands after using a public washroom
• 67 persent actually wash their hands
• 33 persent of those use soap
• 16 persent really wash long enough

Most Disease are spread through hand contact therefore Handwashing is very important

Bacterial Reduction on the Hands: average of all published studies


Percentage Reduction in Bacteria

Plain soap

92 %


99.6 %

Alcohol gels

99.8 %

Fomites will continue play a major role in disease transmission now and into the future. Good hygiene is not cleaning more, but focused and targeted use of disinfectants.

After reading the above, it is not difficult to realize the importance of such training with all in the professional cleaning field. It is imperative that leaders in the cleaning industry teach, promote and practice the Environmental Stewardship Principles found in the book titled ‘Protecting the Built Environment, Cleaning For Health’ by Michael A. Berry, Ph.D. These include:

• Clean for health first and appearance second.
• Minimize Human exposure to contaminants and cleaning products
• Recognize cleaning as an environmental health benefit.
• Commit to occupational development of cleaning personnel
• Communicate the value of healthy buildings.
• Minimize chemical, particle and moisture residue when cleaning.
• Ensure for worker and occupant safety.
• Contain and reduce all pollutants entering the building.
• Dispose of cleaning products in environmentally safe ways.
• Establish and document routine maintenance schedules.

Happy Training! Rose

About carpet cleaning; planning and organizing housekeeping operations

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008

Dear Rose,
The New Year 2008 will have me faced with several challenges and projects to plan and schedule. A carpet-care, cleaning and maintenance program is high on my list. As someone fairly new to the property and of planning such a program, what if any tips can you share?

Aloha Liz,
One of the most important tips in planning for a carpet-care and maintenance program is first to gather information on the types of carpet in all areas of your facility. Prepare the information as to location, type, size, color, age and the name of company from whom the carpets were purchased, if at all possible. Check past records to gain information on cleaning history and the type services provided, either in-house or outsourced. You may want to do the same for hard-floor surfaces.

Following are key items to consider, keeping in mind the importance of a documentation process:

1. Thorough and frequent vacuuming is essential for embedded soil removal and for keeping pile erect and attractive.

2. Periodic use of a pile brush or pile-lifter machine is excellent for resetting carpet pile, erasing footprints and removing sand, especially for on-beach type properties.

3. As there are several methods of carpet shampooing, a safe approach is important. Keep in mind the formula that, ‘the right cleaning method plus (+) the right machine = a cleaner carpet result with less labor.’

4. Carpet Cleaning / Shampooing methods may include a) Hot- or cold-water extraction system; b) dry-foam system; c) dry-granule system; and d) liquid-bonnet system.

5. It is always a good practice to vacuum dry carpets thoroughly after shampooing using a commercial or industrial machine.

Following also are general rules to consider for stain-removal programs:

1. Treat all stains immediately or as soon as possible.

2. Blot excess liquids with a towel. A hand scraper may be used for semi-solid type residue.

3. Identify stain type. If at all possible, test a small area when working with stain removers.

4. Begin stain treatment from edge of stain working toward the center. Blot the area, do not rub!

5. Safe methods include water or detergent-type solutions for candy, starches, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages stains and solvent chemicals for grease, oil, butter or wax-type stains. To cut down soil build up in all common areas, placing entrance floor mats just inside and directly outside of each door will make a tremendous difference to your cleaning programs. Be assured also that frequent vacuuming will not harm carpets. Based on experience, I highly recommend that you consider a Back-Pack Vacuuming System for Carpet Cleaning. It will provide for a Results Oriented and High Quality Cleaning Program.

Good Luck and Happy New Year! Rose

Hi Rose,
As a manager, I am tasked with organizing and planning a Housekeeping Department Operation Center for a new hotel. What if any information can you suggest to ensure a safe, functional and efficient results for the department and all employees?
Thank you,

Aloha Barbara,
Your question brings flashbacks of the number of times in past years that I have had to deal with several similar situations. One of the first things to do is to prepare what I call a ‘Housekeeping Wish List’ for the most ideal Housekeeping Operation that you would like to have. Draw also a sample floor plan, if possible. Do give consideration to the size and number of rooms and departments of the new property that will dictate the required number of housekeeping employees.

Within your Housekeeping Department, where employees will be greeted daily you will want to consider some of the following to be within the department: A Housekeeping Manager’s Office with specific working areas for

1. Supervisory Staff;

2. A Room Control Operational Station;

3. Training and/or Briefing Room;

4. Storage Spaces for Clean and Soiled Linens, Supplies, Chemicals, Equipments and Carts, and an Employee’s Lunch or Break Room.

I recommend reviewing OSHA Standards Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Subpart 1910.141 – General Environmental Controls – Sanitation. Excellent information and guidance on required areas such as a Change Room, Restroom, Shower, Drinking Water and other key requirements are available that will be helpful in working on the development of a Housekeeping Department. Additional information is available through the internet by going to OSHA’s Website at www.osha.gov.

Visiting other facilities and networking with other colleagues in the field is another excellent way of gaining information. Consider membership in a trade association as the International Executive Housekeepers Association Inc. (I.E.H.A.). Contact Ivy Kwok, Hawaii Chapter’s Membership Chairperson and Executive Housekeeper at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Hotel, at (808) 926-9861 or at email ivy.kwok@outrigger.com.

Good Luck and Success on your project. Mahalo and Happy New Year! Rose

Outsourcing; room amenities

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Nov/Dec 2007

Dear Rose,
Faced with staffing challenges today my hotel GM has asked me to look into the possibilities of outsourcing project type work, such as carpet shampooing and annual general cleaning of rooms. What if any information could you share relative to outsourcing strategies?
A Solutions Seeking EH

Dear SSEH,
Cleaning represents 50 percent or more of the operating cost of a hotel, building or facility and is a highly specialized field best performed by professionals able to get the job done as efficiently, effectively and economically as modern technology will allow.

Highly established Contract Cleaning Companies can provide a comprehensive program for both Guest Room Cleaning and Common Area Cleaning in hotels. It can reduce personnel problems and increase cost effectiveness and cost efficiency.

Advantages to outsource / contract cleaning can result in the following:

Experience and expertise in the science and art of cleaning
Experience and expertise in Guest Room Cleaning Services
Provide “Clean-Ethics” and skilled ready work force
Provide for implementation of Safety guidelines
Provide on-going Supervision and Training
Release from Personnel and Payroll problems
Release from burdened/benefit problems
Release from paid lunch breaks, that impacts on payroll cost
Negotiable supplies and equipment Purchasing Process
Enhance Guest Room Cleaning Program and Service.

Selecting a Service Contractor:

Determine and decide on standard of cleaning desired; Prestige (Deluxe); Adequate (Value); Minimal (Limited Service)
Develop Operational/Cleaning Specifications
Determine Term of Contract
Specify Security and Guest Safety Requirements
Assess Management Quality and Depth of Contract Cleaning Company
Assess Technical Strength and Expertise
Define Insurance Requirements
Define Payment Terms; i.e., cost per square feet, cost per room night, cost per project

Consideration of the above can result in a successful outsourcing program for your facility.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Dear Rose,
Presentation of amenities such as toilet tissue specifically with paper products in guest rooms is a hot topic where I work. Having been in healthcare, and now in hospitality, I noticed the pointed fold in guestrooms and in public restrooms with toilet and facial tissues. What if any tips could you share on the topic at hand? Thank You for your helpful articles.
Polly Ann

Dear Polly Ann,
Presentation of guest room amenities is important and standards are generally established. When you walk in a hotel room and see the bathroom toilet tissues hanging loosely what if any impression would you have? In a public restroom, toilet tissue often has the tendency to hang loosely at various lengths even touching the floor. The same has also been noted in medical centers. For those who represent the profession in the hospitality industry an “over the top” placement with a neat pointed fold of the tissues in a guest bathroom or in a public restroom is not at all strange. A toilet tissue on a holder and set in an “over the top” placement is less likely to hang loosely versus “under the bottom.”

In the hospitality industry that special touch is a caring step that only takes a second. It is a standard that lends to image, aesthetics, cleanliness, orderliness, caring and first impressions.

An over the top “TT” presentation and leaves a pleasant and clean first impression, also sends a message of care, sanitation, service and consistency.

It sends a message that the bathroom/restroom toilet has been cleaned and sanitized.

If the fold is found intact, it might imply that the toilet may not have been used at time of inspection. It may also save on cleaning time.

It is easier to pull the tissue from the top than from the bottom.

Tissue tearing from the top is less likely to occur than from the bottom.

It has also become an expectation of guests when checking into a hotel room.

Avoids cross contamination, as the rolled up side is what touches the body. With all other type amenities shampoos, conditioners, shower caps, etc., keep in mind that simplicity is the best practice and policy. The fancier, complicated or overly detailed presentation adds time to the cleaning process. If you are not a member of the International Executive Housekeepers Association, I suggest you make contact with Ivy Kwok at Outrigger Waikiki Resort or go on the Internet at www.ieha.org. Information such as you have requested is often discussed between members at educational meetings and programs. Good Luck!

Happy Holidays to all Clean Talk Readers.

Cleaning in offices, shops and other areas; staffing formulas; training programs

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Sept/Oct 2007

Hi Rose,
In cleaning for hotels or condominiums, staffing determination generally is by room or units cleaned. We are also faced with cleaning of food service areas, shops, offices, exercise rooms, cottages and cabins. Would you provide tips on how to measure for cleaning the various types of areas and/ or buildings?
Thank You,
Mary Ann

Aloha Mary Ann,
On measuring of areas and/or buildings, getting a close to accurate measurement is important. Approaches to consider include:

1) Secure whenever possible blueprints of the building to gain information on size and measurement.

2) Perform a physical measurement to compare with blueprint scale and/or to develop your own scale.

3) Always work with “gross” and/or “net cleanable” footage as a guide.

4) If a mechanical measuring device is not available, it is recommended to know your “measured pace,” so when need be, you can step off (your shoe size) the area to get estimated measurements.

5) Measuring floor and ceiling tiles can provide accurate measurements. Floor tiles come in two sizes; 1-foot squares and 9-inch squares. Ceiling tiles measure either 2-foot squares or 2 feet by 4 feet and, many times, allow for measurements to take place from a central point of the room.

6) Measuring a building from its outer perimeter is another approach by walking around the building. The measurements multiplied by the number of floors of the building will provide a close gross measurement.

7) Keep in mind that physical measuring of a building may be a slow process. If blueprints are not available, make an effort to draw your own working, simplified floor plan to serve as a guide.

8) With newly-developed condominiums or office buildings, checking with the developer for a “prospectus,” which may provide the measurements of the building, rooms and all common areas.

Diversified measuring devices may be purchased from home improvement stores. An excellent resource material for work-loading/time-to-task standards would be ISSA’s 447 Cleaning Times, found at www.ieha.org. Good luck.

Dear Rose,
In determining staffing needs what, if any, formula could you recommend to determine the ideal staff for a new housekeeping operation?

Aloha Mike,
Depending on the type of facility, some of the basic items to consider would be either by bed count, type of areas, room count, combined in all instances with square footage. To express in mathematical terms the formula for determining the number of employees needed, the equation could be as outlined below:

Let I = Ideal or adequate staff
Let F = Facility type to be serviced (hospital, hotel)
Let A = Area(s) to be serviced (rooms, common areas, offices)
Let S = Service system to be applied (zone, team, day/night cleaning)
Let T = Type of service /standard/ frequency (light, regular)
Let E = Equipment and supplies (vacuum, microfiber)
Let R = Reporting system (manual, electronic)

Therefore: F+A+S+T+E+R=I (Ideal staff)

Other factors involved further make the process of staffing complex:
Let C = Caliber of worker (experience/no experience)
Let Q = Quality of supervision (trained)
Let I = Internal management/training policy (support)
Let B = Building bugaboos (architectural problems, service elevators)

Therefore the final equation would read:
___________ = Ideal staff
C + Q + I + B

The above is applied in the work-loading of a building or area to include the processes of time to task for the work to be performed.

Supervisory span of control: The ideal would be one for every six to 10 workers per building, floor, division, unit and or management’s policies. Good luck!

Hi Rose,
I’m an EH for a one owner hotel and am working on developing a training program for our housekeeping operations. Please share recommended topics that should be included in my training manual.
Thank You,
Train the Trainer

Aloha TT,
The following are important topics to consider for a housekeeping training manual. OSHA training requirements include safety training, hazard communication, universal precaution — blood-borne pathogens.

Others may include basics to professional cleaning, cleaning procedures/processes (guest room cleaning, bathroom cleaning, bed-making, etc.), communicable diseases, health and wellness, communication and guest services, cleaning standards, green cleaning, cultural diversity, customer guest service excellence, communication, emergency procedures, personal grooming and more.

If you are interested, there is available at a small cost a manual titled “A Pail Full of Training” that will solve your housekeeping training program.

Cleaning systems; mattress turnover project

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jul/Aug 2007

Aloha Rose,
As someone new to hotel housekeeping, I wanted to gain information on the various types of cleaning systems and/or approaches that may be applied to guest room cleaning.
A Novice EH

Dear Novice,
Your question sends a message that you may be part of the new breed to professional housekeeping. The following are diverse approaches to guest room cleaning that I have worked with over the years.

a) Zone Cleaning: The traditional system used in most hotels. A room cleaner works alone, assigned to a set quota of rooms daily with a set number of checkout rooms. This process requires tools, a vacuum and a housekeeping cart for each worker.

b) Team Cleaning: Two or more people work together with specialty assignments for a set number of rooms. This process requires tools, a vacuum and a housekeeping cart for the team. A dual cart process may apply with one cart for all clean linens and amenities and another for soiled linens. This process positively impacts the hotel’s capital expense budget.

c) The Efficiency Cleaning System (TECS): A teaming approach that applies best practices of microfiber, backpack vacuuming and steam/ vapor cleaning. An excellent system once learned, mastered and executed, it will result in positive outcomes in productivity, quality and cost efficiencies.

d) Piece Work: One or two people have cleaning credits based on units cleaned. This seasonal-type system has been applied to places like ski resorts during the winter.

e) Contract Cleaning Service: Outsourcing of the daily guest room cleaning and /or project-type cleaning, such as annual deep cleaning or carpet shampooing, done by an outside company. Planning, developing, piloting, and initial and ongoing training are key ingredients to the success of any of these systems. Implementation is best done in phases. Good luck!

Dear Rose,
I am working on a project cleaning procedure for turning over mattresses. I would appreciate any information you can provide.
Big Island EH

Dear EH,
The following may be helpful to you in caring for your property’s beds. Mattresses today are designed with the utmost sleeping comfort in mind and are thicker, heavier and with more upholstery materials than in the past. Always plan this as a two-person project for safety.

Key points to be aware of when caring for mattresses and box springs:
1) New mattresses, because of their materials, outgas odors, which is a natural occurrence.

2) Vacuum and air mattresses regularly, in between stripping and makeup, to help their natural fibers breathe.

3) Protect mattresses with good and well-fitted bed/mattress pads.

4) Encourage even mattress wear by turning and flipping it regularly, monthly or quarterly. Record keeping is highly recommended.

5) Never fold or bend the mattress.

6) Turning a mattress from head to foot and flipping it like a pancake is a good preventative measure for its longevity. This should be scheduled as a cleaning project.

7) The box spring should be turned from head to foot at least once every six months.

8) During this process, it is good to damp dust and sanitize the frames and legs that hold the box spring and mattress. It is important to check the edgings, bindings, quilting and folds during the vacuuming process.

9) Annually steam cleaning the mattresses is recommended.

Turning and flipping steps:
1) Mattresses should be vacuumed, turned and flipped over regularly. Backpack vacuums are excellent for mattress vacuuming. A mattress should be turned both side to side and end over end to balance wear.

2) All new mattresses should be turned over at least once every two weeks for the first two months. Hotel bed manufacturers are known to mark the end of the beds with months of the year to assist in the turning and flipping process.

3) Regular turning and flipping of hotel mattresses is recommended at least once every two months or quarterly, depending on the type and quality of the bed and the hotel’s occupancy.

4) For safety and to safeguard damage, mattress turning and flipping should be done by two people. Handles on the mattress are to guide them in place after flipping; they are not to be used to carry the mattress.

Good luck on a successful mattress care program.

Labor shortage strategies; green cleaning

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, May/June 2007

Dear Rose,
Department managers at our hotel are asked to work on labor shortage strategies and/or solutions to solve the current problems being faced. Housekeeping is my area of responsibility and hiring of room cleaning attendants, which are hard to come by. What, if any, ideas or suggestions can you share in this area?
Short Staff Manager

Aloha SSM,
Along with many housekeeping managers, you are faced with the same dilemma, more so on the neighbor islands. There has been an increase, frequency and demand, in the job want ads for hotel, residential or commercial cleaners. The demand, I feel, is due to career changes that have taken place, as many at the frontline level have switched from the hospitality to the health care industry. Work schedules, wages and benefits and training have been reasons for the changes mentioned. The following is a suggested list of strategies to consider toward possible solutions.

1) Perform a current job analysis of the daily room cleaning tasks to determine possible changes in processes, frequencies, work tools and equipment without impacting standards. Consider work sampling and work simplification studies for work improvement to decrease time and motion and enhance productivity. Example: Is your in-room amenity presentation program a time-consuming process that is impacting productivity?

2) If zone cleaning is the system in use today, consider the possibility of team cleaning systems to enhance productivity and reduce staff.

3) Consider applications of new technologies, such as microfiber cleaning, backpack vacuuming and vapor/steam cleaning, to improve on productivity.

4) Review current scheduling practices. Consider staggered day work shifts and short shifts to impact heavy checkout days and times.

5) Contact the Department of Education to target high school students as after school and weekend employees. Consider a career/work placement program for both special education and regular students, providing information and training on the advantages and future upward mobility of working in a hotel.

6) Consider a diversified short shift schedule program targeting stay-at-home moms, dads and senior citizens. Plan and provide pre-employment training on guest room cleaning processes.

7) Contact Goodwill agencies, homeless and local churches’ youth programs for potential hires. Contact local vocational schools and community colleges.

As a management practice, periodically review current programs, processes and systems of your housekeeping operations. The goal should always be toward the optimum in motivation and results oriented cleaning.

Hi Rose,
The topic of green cleaning is being discussed for our property. Would you please provide information on best ways to begin such a program for our condo/ hotel housekeeping operation?
Working to be in the Know

Green gleaning is taking hold in many facilities today. The difficult step of moving into a green cleaning program is to actually decide to do such a program. It is a positive step to improve the quality of the indoor environment of your property. Many companies have embraced the concepts associated with green cleaning and many have seen improvements in worker productivity and guest satisfaction simply by implementing cleaning programs focused on cleaning for health. Purchasing analysis has shown that yearly janitorial supply costs actually decrease months after instituting a proper green cleaning and maintenance program. Steps to consider when moving into a “green cleaning” program are:

1) Managers must first understand the principles and standards of a green system.

2) Managers must know that such a system will offer high demand and value added services to end customers.

3) A program that is manageable and measurable must be developed.

4) Create a system that will help to minimize risks related to indoor air quality issues.

5) Develop responsible solutions for a safe, healthy and results-oriented program.

6) Choose highly effective and responsible cleaning products (chemicals, tools, equipment; one example is microfiber).

7) Develop responsible cleaning processes and practices.

8) Develop a training program for all employees and train cleaning personnel properly.

9) Team with a responsible vendor or janitorial supply partner.

Incorporating a green cleaning mission will become a positive and powerful marketing tool for any company that will understand the demand for a healthier and safer environment.

EH involved in renovation; best practices; how to get rid of soap scum

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Mar/Apr 2007

Dear Rose,
Why is the executive housekeeper, often times, not part of the early decision-making process when choosing the goods that will be utilized in a hotel renovation? We are given the enormous responsibility to help maintain the new product AFTER renovation but are often having to clean goods that are not practical in a hotel setting.
Gary Nushida
President, IEHA Hawaii chapter

Aloha Gary,
Yours is an excellent question and concern that I thought was no longer a problem faced today by executive housekeepers. Professional cleaning is a diversified technical field. Management at all levels must understand that environmental cleaning is a science and an art that requires knowledge, skills, abilities and well-trained personnel dealing with the many and complex processes of cleaning and maintenance. The old thought of a “head housekeeper” no longer applies today. As an executive housekeeper, I once faced a similar situation in the early years. The approach that I took then and still recommend today to all in the profession, regardless of type of facility, is to strongly emphasize to upper management that involvement in any renovation process is important and essential for the department, the property, future guest services and employee training, morale and safety.

Once a renovation program is announced, begin gathering information on time, critical path, the project manager, design company, type of selected furnishings, materials and products. Request to be assigned to the renovation committee and attendance at all meetings.

Prepare this request in writing, informing that your role would focus on the cleanability and maintainability requirements of selected products, fabrics, furnishings and other materials, that would affect daily cleaning processes, productivity, labor cost, safety, employee morale and guest satisfaction. And that, as a result, the department’s budget and overall bottom line of the facility may also be impacted. As information is received on products and/or materials recommended for the renovation, request for samples to perform product evaluation tests. Document and report your findings. Persevere while keeping abreast of trends and technology in the field.

Certification by the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) will be to your advantage. The program with modules on Interior Design, Purchasing and Waste Management will provide helpful information. Certification will be a definite plus when working with architects or interior designers. Good luck on future projects and programs.

Hi Rose,
I’m asked to come up with a best practice program for housekeeping of which I’m not familiar. Please share any information on best practice programs.

Aloha Sparkle,
Best practices are documented strategies and tactics utilized by companies for “best performance results.” The practices are implemented and honed to provide for efficiency and effectiveness to produce the optimum results. “Best practice” information is gathered from a variety of sources. Information is generally based on interviews, testing, surveys and other mechanisms of “primary” research information that is not available necessarily in the public sector. Other insights may be from secondary research — books, magazines, libraries, Internet and other public-domain resources. Listed are a few best practices that I have researched, tested, implemented and worked successfully. Because of limited space here, you may e-mail me at galerar002@hawaiiantel.net for additional write-ups (including a training workbook I can send you) on the best practices listed below.

Microfiber cleaning cloth and mop
Dual cart systems
Team cleaning systems
Backpack vacuuming systems
Vapor cleaning systems


Dear Rose,
How do you get rid of soap scum in the shower of a hotel, and how do you prevent from getting soap scum in tubs and showers?

Dear Jenna,
Hotel guest rooms are generally cleaned daily and properly and should not have a build-up soap scum problem. Soap scum problems are a result of mineral scale buildup where scum residue clings, due to improper and /or incomplete cleaning processes. Soap scum is oily fatty deposits that require a degreaser or strong alkali-type cleaning chemical, followed with heavy brushing or scrubbing action. The degreaser cuts into the soap scum with a dissolving action of the residue. A professional steam vapor cleaning system is also excellent for eliminating such buildup problems.

Regular and proper cleaning practices with industrial cleaners, microfiber cleaning cloths, rinsing and diving of the surfaces are measures that prevent scum buildup. Selection of the type of soap provided and used as guest amenities should also be wisely considered. Heavy oil-based soaps should be avoided. Application of lemon oil on tile or glass surfaces following cleaning will make it scum resistant. Care in application is important as drops or spray residue may create a slippery surface. Good luck on your project.

What makes an EH tick?

Clean Talk with Rose
By Rose Galera, CEH
Hawaii Hospitality Magazine, Jan/Feb 2007

Dear Rose,
Aloha. I am new in sales to the hotel industry, and I have had some struggles and difficulties in approaching managers of housekeeping operations to present and show my cleaning and guest supply products. I find housekeeping managers to be of a different breed. What, if any, tips could you share to help me become better at what I do, and also could you give me some insights as to what makes an executive housekeeper tick?
Thank You,

Dear Frazzled,
Welcome to Hawaii’s hospitality industry. As you become acquainted with the industry you will be faced with interesting challenges and opportunities. To find out what makes an executive housekeeper (EH) tick, you first must understand that the housekeeping department is vitally important to the success of any property. Having a clear understanding of its functions and operation will be a key factor in your sales results and success. Housekeeping typically is the largest department with a large personnel force; an operating budget for labor, supplies and other controllable items; and a capital budget covering furniture, fixtures and equipment. The responsibilities of an EH are many and varied, of which control is key to being a successful manager. There are duties of planning, coordinating, scheduling, staffing, inspecting, insuring of health and safety regulations, training, supervising, guest relations, payroll, budgeting, financial record keeping, purchasing and more. As with the ticking of a clock, the work day of an EH is a busy one, full of ticks and tocks ongoing toward a work day’s end. The top ticking priorities of an EH is to best service all guests and personnel and to be available on an instant’s notice for problem solving, while focusing on that important bottom line. The EH is generally multitasked and multiticked, often with a daily to do list that will take up a major part of the day.

To answer your question on what makes an EH tick, here are a few critical tips you may want to consider. First, be knowledgeable about the products and company you represent. To not be well informed on product knowledge can be a problem for you. If chemicals are on your list of products, I would suggest becoming well versed in this area.

Learn and become knowledgeable of the facilities you will be serving: their size, type of operation and type of standards.

Become knowledgeable of the facility’s management staff and the “Who is Who” of the property. If the EH is a member of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), Hawaii chapter, you may want to also become a member. Here, you will gain information on EHs in the industry and educational information on professional housekeeping today. Here, you will gain further knowledge on the versatility of how hotel housekeepers tick. You may be amazed at your findings. The Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association is another trade association and avenue that would be beneficial to you as a vendor in the industry.

I would advise against a “cold walk in” on the EH, or any hotel manager for that matter. Arrange for appointments by telephone or mail with company information and your business card. Include a one-page flyer of an interesting new product or industry trend.

On arranging to schedule an appointment, I recommend avoiding the days of Monday or Friday unless requested by the EH. You may also find out as to when the property holds its weekly management meetings. I recommend avoiding that day and time.

Selecting the right time for your appointment is important. For mornings, I suggest the hours between 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Unless you have a luncheon meeting with the EH, avoid the lunch hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and unless requested, a late appointment after 3 p.m. is not advised. Shift changes and the end of the work day for employees may interrupt appointment times. Understand also that you may run into a hotel chain with a central purchasing department. EHs will generally provide recommendations on products, supplies and chemicals based on tests and evaluations and can be instrumental in the selection process. In the purchasing process, know and understand that while cost will be an important deciding factor, a seasoned and well-versed EH will take the time to do a product evaluation, to consider its environmental impact and determine whether it will enhance and improve service, quality, safety and productivity.

Involvement in a professional trade association, such as IEHA, in the educational certification program, ongoing seminars and webinars, and attendance at annual conventions and tradeshows have made today’s EH a new and well-informed breed. Professional skills and abilities, being “in the know” and blessed with everyday “street smarts” are what make today’s executive housekeeper tick. Tap in on these values and you too will be ticking along happily with the EHs in our hospitality industry. Mahalo!